Green Bay Packers cornerback Charles Woodson is introduced before the game against the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010. Woodson did not play in the game. / File/Press-Gazette
Charles Woodson came to Green Bay with a sullied reputation and surly attitude. Now he plans to retire as a Packer.
Plenty can change in five years.
Woodson signed a two-year extension Thursday that will keep him with the Packers through 2014. His agent Carl Poston told KDVR-TV in Denver the deal was worth up to $55 million over five years. Woodson was scheduled to make $6 million in 2010 and a combined $14 million in 2011 and 2012.
“What was key on this deal is that the team essentially made a three-year commitment to Woodson where he can make over $33 million over the next three years,” Poston told KDVR’s Josina Anderson. “Overall it’s a new five-year deal with a max value of over $55 million that has $21 million in advances and bonuses.”
Woodson, 33, admitted he never envisioned this day when first signing with Green Bay in 2006.
The former Heisman Trophy winner was at the low point of his professional career at the time. He had played only 19 games in his last two years in Oakland because of a knee injury and a broken leg. He hadn’t played a full 16-game season since 2001.
Woodson was named defensive rookie of the year in 1998 and selected for the Pro Bowl his first four seasons in the league. But his reputation suffered once he was hit with a slew of injuries.
The Raiders did not try to sign Woodson as an unrestricted free agent in 2006 and Tampa Bay was the only other team outside of the Packers to make a serious push.
And Green Bay wasn’t exactly his dream destination.
“It’s been a long journey,” Woodson said after practice Thursday. “Absolutely (it took a while to embrace Green Bay), but once I came around, I came around hard.
“It was a gradual thing. The more people I met around here in the community and just throughout Wisconsin. And just playing here with the guys we have, the organization, the way they are with the players. The way they take care of the players. … Once I realized what I had here being in Green Bay, then it was a done deal from there.”
Green Bay became the land of milk and honey for Woodson — a utopia.
He has started 62 of a possible 64 games and was named a Pro Bowl alternate in 2007 and a starter in 2008 and 2009. Woodson became the first cornerback since Deion Sanders (1994) to be named defensive player of the year. After Dom Capers took over as defensive coordinator last season, Woodson flourished in the 3-4 scheme with 81 tackles, nine interceptions and three picks returned for scores.
“It has been neat to watch him go through some exciting things in his personal life, but he has been an outstanding football player for us since Day 1,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “I think the new defense really highlights his skills and his abilities. I really like the working relationship he has with Dom Capers and (cornerbacks coach) Joe Whitt.
“I would look at him as a team captain. I know we don’t have team captains, but he is very well-respected in the locker room and has done a great job for the Green Bay Packers.”
Woodson’s signing comes in the wake of a pair of high-profile contract negotiations involving cornerbacks. New York Jets corner Darrelle Revis, who many consider the top player in the NFL at the position, held out from Aug. 1 to Sept. 5 before agreeing to a new contract Sunday night. Revis signed a four-year deal that ESPN reported being worth $46 million and including $32 million in guaranteed money.
Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha signed a three-year contract in February 2009 worth a reported $45.3 million, including $28.5 million guaranteed, that made him the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history. Asomugha’s deal prompted Revis to demand a new contract.
“I think the trend really started earlier than these guys,” Woodson said. “Deion (Sanders) was the first one … getting the big contract. I’m not surprised at all.”